“You can always tell when something is meant to be, because it happens naturally.” – Dr. Susan Feneck
It is always a pleasure to sit down with Dr. Susan Feneck to talk about her newest endeavors. Nominated once again as one of our MYVEGAS Top 100 Women of Influence, Dr. Feneck was happy to share the history behind why she chose to pursue a tough subject matter, Juvenile Justice reform. I asked her one question, “Did you know you would be advocating this cause for years to come?” This is Dr. Susan Feneck’s answer, in her own words…
‘Previous to graduating, I thought for sure I was going to be utilizing my two business degrees and the other two counseling and psych degrees with a goal of corporate counseling such as stress managements and helping business leaders with managing the pressures and demands of the corporate world. Having written my doctoral dissertation on at risk youth, little did I know it was paving the way for me advocating for the cause of injustice in the Juvenile Justice “System.”
When it came time for me to pick a dissertation topic, I was at a loss. One of my friends said to me, “why don’t you write about all of the kids on the news always getting in trouble, it really seems to bother you…” and there was my dissertation topic.
Upon graduating, I was offered a position to work as a Child Psychologist in the Department of Forensic Mental Health, I knew at that point it was no coincidence it would be a reflection of the rest of my life’s work. The position entailed working with the same population as what I had just written my doctoral dissertation on, seriously, what are the chances? It is my destination, my life’s path and never looked back. It was meant to be my purpose in life. Even through the struggles and countless sacrifices it took to get to this very day, I was always inspired. The back story is truly unbelievable really, what movies are made of.
It’s an understatement to say just how grateful I am for the unending support of my family, mostly my very loving beloved father and my beautiful and very loving mother, friends and mentors. Without them, I seriously wouldn’t be anywhere on this path. I’m even grateful for my high school guidance counselor. When other students were taking the SAT’s to get into college, I asked him, “Do I need to be taking that test everyone is taking to get into college?” He said, “No Susan you aren’t going to college.” I was like, “ok” and just walked out of his office and went and cried in the bathroom feeling like the stupidest person in the world. That alone inspired me to see if I could beat all of the odds against me. Having zero confidence I could even get thru the first semester of my Associate Degree, because I believed my own guidance counselor, I literally from then on never took a semester off for twelve straight years, even while working sometimes two jobs, and here we are. There are only my mom and dad to thank for literally making me initially go to the local community college to start my journey. Anything is possible. I had big dreams and just never gave up no matter the depth of the falls and trust me there were many.
I can’t express how much I appreciate the honor of having all of the nominations from my extraordinary peers. The topic of injustice in the Juvenile Justice “System,” is what really continues to be nominated, I’m just the messenger. The black light on the topic has gone on for far too long. I’m trying to be the bright light on the cause to get more justice in the system. So much so that I created the Juvenile Justice Impact Gala to share this movement with my peers, my community, and to the world. I may just be one voice, but together, we are still one voice, just stronger. The system is so broken, antiquated, outdated, barbaric and criminal in and of itself, there has to be immediate change, that is my one and only goal. ’